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Entries in Ezzatollah Sahabi (2)


LATEST Iran Urgent: The Deal on Uranium Enrichment (and US Response)

UPDATE 18 MAY, 1445 GMT: Ahh, so here's the apparent response of the Obama Administration, or at least Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: reduce the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement to "a number of unanswered questions" and push forward with the high-profile sanctions drive in the United Nations. Clinton's statement, just made to a Senate committee:

“We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China. We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today. And let me say, Mr. Chairman, I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide.”

Iran Document: Text of Iran-Brazil-Turkey Agreement on Uranium Enrichment

UPDATE 1745 GMT: The US Government has now made its formal response to the Tehran agreement. It's little more than a "hold the line" statement, issued by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. It gives no clue as to whether Washington was supportive of the Brazilian-Turkish mediation; instead it sets the next challenge: let's see the proposal go to the International Atomic Energy Agency and, possibly, let's see Iran suspend its unilateral push for 20-percent uranium:

We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil. The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community. Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns. While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions and which the Iranian government originally justified by pointing to the need for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Furthermore, the Joint Declaration issued in Tehran is vague about Iran’s willingness to meet with the P5+1 countries to address international concerns about its nuclear program, as it also agreed to do last October.

The United States will continue to work with our international partners, and through the United Nations Security Council, to make it clear to the Iranian government that it must demonstrate through deeds –-- and not simply words –-- its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions. Iran must take the steps necessary to assure the international community that its nuclear program is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes, including by complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions and cooperating fully with the IAEA. We remain committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program, as part of the P5+1 dual track approach, and will be consulting closely with our partners on these developments going forward.

The European Union and Britain have put out similar statements.

UPDATE 1245 GMT: A group of Iranian political activists have declared that today’s uranium agreement, from a “political and economic” stance, is in the interest of the Iranian nation.

Mohammad Bastehnegar, Ezzatollah Sahabi, Taghii Rahmani, Hosein Rafii, Reza Raistoosi, Hossein ShahHosseini, Azam Taleghani, Reza Alijani, and Nezameddin Ghahari asserted that the agreement could end economic sanctions against Iran and lead to “transparency” in Iran’s relationship with the world.

The statement calls for collaboration of both conservative and reformist political activists in supporting this government initiative.

UPDATE 1110 GMT: Trita Parsi gets to the heart of why this arrangement was struck when last October's very similar deal, which reached top-table discussions in Geneva between Iran, the US, and other powers, collapsed. He notes talks between Brazil's Lula and the Supreme Leader: "This is no longer Ahmadinejad's nuclear deal, this is Khamenei's nuclear deal."

UPDATE 1015 GMT: Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has offered more details of the proposed uranium swap at a press conference. From Press TV:
Iran will ask the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to station its personnel in Turkey to monitor the safe-keeping of the dispatched LEU [Tehran's 1200 kilogrammes low-enriched uranium]....The top diplomat underlined Iran will inform the IAEA of its decision "through official channels" within no more than seven days from the Monday meeting.
"Upon the positive response of the Vienna Group --- which includes Russia, France, the United States and the IAEA --- further details of the exchange will be elaborated through a written agreement and proper arrangement between Iran and the Vienna group that specifically committed themselves to deliver 120 cages of fuel needed for the Tehran research reactor (TRR)," noted Mottaki.

If the Vienna Group accepts Iran's terms and conditions, Mottaki said, both parties will "commit themselves to the implementation" of the deal, which requires Iran to deposit its LEU in Turkey within one month, and in return, the Vienna group will deliver 120 kg of fuel required for the Tehran reactor in no later than one year.

UPDATE 0755 GMT: How big is this story for Iranian state media? Islamic Republic News Agency, noting that "Ahmadinejad raised his hands in victory", devotes 6 of its top 9 stories to the agreement. (Fars, on the other hand, has not stepped into line: its top story is on British Foreign Secretary William Hague speaking about the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai.)

UPDATE 0645 GMT: The Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement is for a swap of uranium outside Iran, and just as signficant, it involves the 1200 kilogrammes of Tehran's stock that the US and "Western" countries were seeking last autumn.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Monday that the Tehran government has agreed to a draft proposal whereby Iran will send some 1200 kg of its 3.5 percent enriched uranium over to Turkey in exchange for a total of 120 kg 20 percent....

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will officially receive a letter with regards to the swap deal "within a week".

According to a Press TV correspondent, the swap will take place nearly a month after receiving official approval from the Vienna Group, which consists of representatives from Iran, France, Russia and the US and the IAEA.

Now watch carefully for the reaction from Washington. If it is favourable, even cautiously favourable, we've got a major breakthrough.

The dominant story in both Iranian and non-Iranian media today is likely to be the announcement between Iran, Brazil, and Turkey of an agreed procedure for a deal on enrichment of Iran's uranium.

No details will be available until later today, so significant questions remain. It is not clear whether Tehran has given any way to the essential demand of the US and other members of the "5+1" (UK, France, Germany, Russia, China) for a swap of uranium outside Iran. Politically, Washington's position --- has it privately supported the Brazilian and Turkish discussions? --- is murky.

The seriousness of the talks, however, is indicated not only by their 17-hour duration on Sunday but also by the level of involvement. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's postponement on Friday of his trip to Iran did not, in the end, mean that Turkey had withdrawn altogether. Rather, this seems to have been a case of wait-and-see: Turkish "ministers" were involved throughout Sunday: once it was clear that an agreement was possible, Erdogan reversed his position and flew to Tehran, joining Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The core issue is how Iran's 3.5-percent uranium will be exchanged for 20-percent uranium, needed for the Tehran Research Reactor producing medical isotopes.

The Latest from Iran (12 May): Defending the Indefencible?

2100 GMT: The Executions (Arresting the Students Special). RAHANA reports, "At least 15 female and male students have been arrested since Tuesday May 11, in Marivan [in Kurdistan], and taken to unknown locations. The arrests follow two days of rallies at Payam Nour University in Marivan as well as widespread calls for a province-wide strike on May 13 over the execution of 5 political prisoners."

2050 GMT: The Executions. The Iranian Independent Workers Union has issued a statement on the hanging of teacher Farzad Kamangar: "Execution of Farzad and other political prisoners will only add hatred and disgust of workers, teachers, and all Iranian’s towards the current situation more than ever. Freedom seeking shouts of Farzad will turn into screams of million teachers, workers and students to achieve a society free of death penalty."

And the Tehran Bus Workers Union declares, "We are mourning a teacher whose equipment was chalks and pens, one who taught kids, many of whom put their heads hungry on their pillows at night. His crime was standing for human rights."

NEW Iran Update: The Aftermath of the Executions
NEW Iran Document: Maziar Bahari’s Response to His 13-Year (and 74-Lash) Sentence
NEW Iran Special: A Renewal of Protest for 12 June?
The Latest from Iran (11 May): Opposition Surfaces

2040 GMT: Economy Watch. With the Ahmadinejad subsidy cuts imminent, a sign of things to come? Khabar Online reports:

During the last days, some gas stations in Tehran have installed notices saying they lack unsubsidized gasoline. The announcements have caused the bewilderment of customers who can not meet their demands by rationed gasoline.

As the gas stations avoid selling unsubsidized gasoline, the head of Iran's Association of Gas Station Owners declares that the problem is due to the shortage of "special unsubsidized gasoline cards".

Khabar adds the pointed fact, "Lacking sufficient oil refineries, Iran imports 40 percent of its gasoline for local consumption."

2030 GMT: More on the Karroubi Statement (1515 GMT). In his meeting with the family of the imprisoned journalist Ali Malihi, Mehdi Karroubi focused on the Government's loss of legitimacy because of transgressions and abuses: “They have not yet resolved the cases of Kahrizak Prison and the sexual abuses; the ambiguities surrounding that case still exist and they are increasing." Karroubi continued:
Lack of trust it at its lowest point ever, and the regime’s behaviour is such that an unprecedented crack has emerged between the people and the state. I swear to God we never thought country’s fate would turn out to be this way ... The people are moving in one direction and the state in another

1840 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Arsalan Abadi, an engineering student at Qazvin International University, has been sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison.

1830 GMT: Mousavi's Latest. Mir Hossein Mousavi, speaking with Rah-e-Sabz, has emphasised that the Green Movement is a peace movement", supporting the Iranian people's demands for fulfillment of the Constitution.

Mousavi criticised the lack of independence in Iran's judiciary, said that reform depends on a free media, and noted the torture of and forced confessions from detainees.

1740 GMT: The Executions. A reader points us to Fars News' article with further details of the "case of the five terrorists", found guilty of bombing of centres of government and the people of Iranian cities.

1515 GMT: Is Human Life This Cheap? Mehdi Karroubi, visiting the family of a detained journalist, has asked, "Is human life so cheap that one can take it so easily, without the slightest legal consideration and hidden from the public?" He continued, ""When human life becomes so cheap that they [the authorities] open fire on people on the street only because of some civil protest, then such behaviour is not so much out of the norm."

Asked about a statement by Gholam-Hossein Elham, a member of the Guardian Council, that Mir Hossein Mousavi is pursuing "mohareb" (war against God), Karroubi replied: "We should cry for Islam that Elham and his disciples have become its spokesmen. "

1320 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has declared that those who have to be purified are "those who stand against the law, people and religion, not me".

1315 GMT: Executions. Muhammad Sahimi has a long article in Tehran Bureau, "Capital Punishment, Capital Fear", pulling together the strands of information on Sunday's executions and their aftermath.

1300 GMT: Diversion. Amidst the internal tension and developments, today's Presidential distraction....
"You should know that your resolutions are not worth a penny," Ahmadinejad said in a message to the big powers.

"If you think that by making fuss and propaganda you can force us to withdraw, you are wrong. The Iranian nation will not withdraw even one inch from its stance," he said in a speech to a crowd in southwestern Iran.

1230 GMT: The Family of the Executed. Fereshteh Ghazi updates on alleged regime harassment of the family of Shirin Alamhouli, executed on Sunday (see 1130 GMT). Alamhouli's sister and mother are reportedly out on bail, but Ghazi says her grandfather, uncle, and cousin have now been arrested and are held in the Ministry of Intelligence. The family's phone has been disconnected since yesterday., the house is surrounded, and a curfew is in place.

1215 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Fereshteh Ghazi has a full account of Sunday's trial of Mohammad Davari, the imprisoned editor of Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News, with Davari's statement, “They want to sacrifice someone over the issue of raping detainees, and didn’t find anyone better than me.”

Davari was arrested on 26 September when the headquarters of Karroubi's Etemade Melli party were raided, less than two months after Karroubi publicly raised allegations of abuse and rape of post-election detainees. The Official charges against Davari include “disseminating propaganda against the regime" and "conspiracy to disrupt national security and public order".

Davari's lawyer, Mina Jafari said that her client, who is reportedly in poor health, is under pressure to confess against Mehdi Karroubi but has refused to do so.

According to Jafari, Davari said at his trial on Sunday, "In the past 8 months in prison, I judged my own actions more than you judged them, and I concluded that I didn’t do anything to discredit the regime. In fact, all of my actions added to the regime’s credibility.” The lawyer asked Karroubi to intervene to seek Davari's freedom.

1130 GMT: The Executions. Nazila Fathi of The New York Times follows up this morning on her reporting of Sunday's executions of five Iranians.

The centrepiece is an interview with Khalil Bahramian, lawyer for the three of the five slain prisoners. Bahramian said that authorities are refusing to release the bodies and asserted, in line with reports from the family, that the sister and mother of the executed Shirin Alamhouli, were arrested at their home in northwestern Iran. (They were later reportedly released on bail.) He also said the family was not aware of the execution until Monday afternoon.

Bahramian noted, “They [the authorities] even turned down my request to allow the families to be present while they are burying them [the executed].”

Fathi also draws from Rah-e-Sabz to report that Abdoljabar Karami, member of Parliament for Sanandaj, the capital of Iranian Kurdistan, was threatened by the provincial governor when he tried to stop the executions and was unable to secure the release of the bodies.

1025 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Peyke Iran claims that Hossein Rassayian, physics professor at Qazvin International University and a Mir Hossein Mousavi supporter, has been arrested.

1020 GMT: The Executions. Human Rights Activists News Agency claims that authorities are trying to arrest members of the family of Farzad Kamangar, one of the 5 Iranians put to death on Sunday.

1010 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz offers a round-up amidst summons of bailed protesters to return to the courts. Zahra Jabbari has been acquitted of "mohareb" (war against God), but human rights activist Abolfazl Abedini has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. Emaduddin Baghi, Badressadat Mofidi, and other journalists are seriously ill and need medication.

Baghi's lawyer, Hassan Ali Abutalebi has contrasted the treatment of his client with that of Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmardari, acquitted of all charges of libel earlier this week.

0945 GMT: President Be Gone? Ezzatollah Sahabi, former minister and member of Parliament, editor of the banned journal Iran-e Farda, and leader of Iran’s Nationalist-Religious political alliance, makes the declaration --- published in both Rah-e-Sabz and Khabar Online --- that the dismissal of President Ahmadinejad is necessary to preserve Iran and the Islamic Republic.

Reformist member of Parliament Darius Ghanbari has said that the prolongation of Ahmadinejad's presidency "is a joke" and the characteristic of his government is that "it doesn't tolerate critique".

0825 GMT: Dealing with Detainees. Writing in The National, Michael Theodoulou draws from our analysis to assess that the three detained US hikers, and the Iranian decision to allow their mothers to see them, are linked to Tehran's manoeuvres with the US over Iran's nuclear programme: "Hikers Seen as Bargaining Chips".

0815 GMT: On the International Front. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has returned from Turkey and the meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference with the declaration that a Qods Committee on Palestine will be established and assertion of agood relationship with Turkey, but with not a word on uranium enrichment.

Following a pattern, President Ahmadinejad has used a speech to look away from internal matters, asking, "Who is Israel to stand against us?" and declaring, "No one will attack us, there is nobody."

0530 GMT: Responding to the Defence of the Indefencible. I had not posted my response to the latest column of Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, using an attack on Nazila Fathi of The New York Times to maintain "official justifications" of Sunday's executions, as I did not wish to offer any oxygen for their views. Instead I had commented in a personal capacity on other websites and in discussion with members of Gulf 2000.

I have asked by readers, however, to post my response:
In the spirit of the intellectual honesty that the Leveretts claim, I note that they --- in the guise of an attack on Nazila Fathi's journalistic honesty --- have defended the "official justifications" of Iranian state media over Sunday's execution of 5 Iranians, denying any substantiated claims of the deprivation of human rights.

I therefore offer extracts of and links to only a few of many pieces of evidence for consideration:

"Khalil Bahramian, Kamangar’s lawyer, said: 'Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.'

Bahramian, who was present during the closed-door court hearing, described it as 'lasting no more than five minutes, with the Judge issuing his sentence without any explanation and then promptly leaving the room'. He added, I have seen absolutely zero evidence presented against Kamangar. In my forty years of legal profession, I have never witnessed such a prosecution.'"

2. "Khalil Bahramian, Kamangar’s attorney, in an interview before knowing about the execution said: 'Mr. Kamangar and his interrogator told me that there are changes in the case and under review by the prosecutor and execution is out of the question. I inquired more than ten times and they told me the case is under review. But the intelligence officer had told Farzad that execution had been revoked.' Later being notified of the execution after the fact, Bahramian said in an interview: 'The rules call for notification of the lawyers on carrying out the death penalty. In case of two of my clients, Farzad Kamangar and Mehdi Eslamian, I was not notified at all.'"

3. "Mehdi Islamian's brother was executed last year, convicted of cooperation with the Monarchist Group. Mehdi was convicted of giving financial aid to his brother before his arrest."

4. The last letter of Farzad Kamangar before his execution

5. The last letter of Shirin Alamhouli before her execution

In the spirit of intellectual honesty, and more importantly in the spirit of respect for human rights, I ask the Leveretts to set aside their diversionary attack on Nazila Fathi and to provide evidence, beyond the official account of Fars News and the Islamic Republic News Agency, that due process was followed from arrest to execution in the case of these five Iranians.

(The Leveretts have subsequently replied on Gulf 2000 --- the first time they have ever engaged with my comments --- without providing any evidence on the case, and I have responded.)

0425 GMT: Culture Corner. Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports on "Banned Music Banned":
Rasul Abbasi, the director-general for transportation and traffic coordination of Iran's municipalities, has told the Borna news agency that taxi drivers are not allowed to play banned music in their taxis.

Abbasi said that if they did so, they would be dealt with according to the law, which could lead to the cancellation of their taxi permit and confiscation of their cars.

The Iranian official added that the law in this regard has not been implemented for the past few years. He called on the managers of organizations supervising taxis in Iran to oversee the performance of their drivers.

Moshtaq, a taxi driver in Tehran, commented on the announcement:
It is one of the most important human rights for one to be able to choose what he listens to and no one has the authority to determine that. What would one want to listen to in his free time, for instance, whether banned or not. Who is the one to actually decide what should be banned and what should not? On what basis is this determined?

0420 GMT: While looking for further signs of the political fallout from Sunday's executions of five Iranians, we post an update on the latest developments.